Thursday, 25 August 2016

Talk about stress!

This last week has been incredibly stressful.

My mother was taken into hospital, taken out again, been near to collapse and feeling great... so the whole gamut of being an elderly human all in the space of one week.

My younger son was in a production of The Mikado at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Talk about stressed... and that was both him and me! Luckily I can report that the show was incredible and he was absolutely fantastic. Phew! Relief, relief, relief!

I had a great couple of days going to things at the Edinburgh Festival, which included some very intellectual events about Compassion and also Philosophy and some music things too.

I've now got the lovely Folly, an ex-Guide Dog pup (who was withdrawn for skin problems and not for bad behaviour). She's incredibly easy to have as a house guest. She came here before when just a wee puppy and Odi was here. It's so great to have a dog here again even if it's only for 24 hours.

Odi and Folly when she was about 12 weeks old

Folly all grown up

Susan and Gordon (Folly's owners) are also boarding Meg, a 17 week old lab/retriever cross who is absolutely adorable. I even got a cuddle!

A cuddle with Meg

Next I'm off on a retreat, which I'm facilitating, on Holy Isle. The second one this year and the last one of it's kind that I'm running. Next year will be all change as I'm preparing a new 7 day retreat.

I have a bit of work today, creating a workshop for GP's I'm doing in October, and then it'll be full steam ahead for retreat organisation with a quick trip back up to Edinburgh tonight for a final Festival fling.

So hopefully there'll be no more stressful events this week... but who can tell!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Trouble with technology?

As some of you may know, I'm not all that fond of sweet things. However, when I was in Thailand there was a coconut and tapioca flour cake that was really delicious. They gave me the recipe and when I got home I made a batch, which tasted great.

I came across a coconut today and decided I'd make some more, so got out my trusty food processor and managed to slice my thumb in the process by forgetting that the grater blade is double sided and also has a slicer on the other side. I found out the slicer was pretty sharp!

Having got through 3 plasters as the wound wouldn't stop bleeding I needed to use my iPhone. I've become so accustomed to using my thumb print as ID to sign in rather than numbers that I'd almost forgotten what my numbers were!

Then I had a phone conversation with my friend Shirley and was bemoaning that I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to use my thumb print again as there'll be a scar, when she enlightened me that I can have more than one fingerprint - in fact I can have as many as I want.

I'm now back at being able to let the numbers go and can fingerprint my way in.

Good thing someone's read the iPhone instructions!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Dog pics

My holiday is now officially over. Work has had to be done in London today and again tomorrow and I'm finding it hard to engage my brain!

I promised some pics of Sara's dogs, so here's some for you:

Me with Clarence trying to be a lap dog and Myrtle getting jealous

Myrtle manages to displace Clarence!

Clarence displaces everyone!

Clarence is exactly the same age as Vespa, to the day. So he's going to be 2 on 30th August. He currently weighs in at over 70 kg and is still growing! Myrtle is only 14 months old and so she has an awful lot of growing to do.... it'll be interesting when I go back next year to see by how much.

And here's a pic of the house. It's right in the middle of farmland and is incredibly picturesque. They have loads of outhouses and stables both to the right and left of the house and many acres too. Just lovely.

The house from the front gate

The early morning view from my bedroom window looking out over the garden to the fields beyond

Friday, 5 August 2016

Summer hols in France

I've been in France for the last 6 days and having a wonderful and very restful time. The weather hasn't been brilliant (although is getting better daily), but spending time with my friends, Sara (who I've known for over 50 years) and her husband Kzryztof, brings with it the joy of them not expecting anything more from me than to be myself and relax.

I've done some shopping - mainly Morrocan type towels that I like and are super cheap over here and some Italian linen trousers and a dress from the market we always go to - and cooking. Oh yes and eating and drinking of course. Well, no point in being in France without doing what the natives do!

Today Sara and I decided to be tourists and went to the Chateau de Vendeuvre, a lovely place about 50 km north of where I'm staying. They had the most fascinating museum of miniature furniture I've ever seen and is well worth a visit for that alone.

It also has an incredible garden with hidden water features that spray you if you're not careful! We had a lot of laughs about that!

The back view of the castle

The back garden!

One of the many 'surprises'! This one managed not to wet us too much!

Stunning view over the flower field to the castle

The rest of my time en France has been spent playing with the Great Dane's - they have 2, Clarence who's 23 months and Myrtle who's 13 months and so are still both growing and are absolutely gorgeous and pics will be posted when I actually have some.

Tomorrow and Sunday are Vide-Grenier days, which are a bit like car boot sales but French style and are good fun to go to just to wander around and get caught up in all things French.

And that's about it for now. Hope you're enjoying your summer as much as I am.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Dan the Guide Dog comes to stay

I've had the pleasure, the last 4 days, of having the wonderful, very handsome Dan The Guide Dog to stay with me. He's here on his holidays and is a dream dog to have around.

The utterly gorgeous, very smiley Dan

He's so well behaved and a great companion. We had a day in Edinburgh on Friday, when I had to go to a meeting at The Scotsman with the person who took my last job. It was a fascinating meeting from all kinds of perspectives - mostly though the relief I feel at not having to do the job myself - and Dan did just what he was supposed to do, which was sleep and he did that for just over 2 hours. Then we went back to No. 2 Son's house and got ready for dinner.

Dan, getting ready to sleep at The Scotsman

Both my boys came out to have No. 2 Son's belated birthday dinner at Wedgewood in the Royal Mile. They were really good about the dog and had arranged for our table to have lots of room so Dan could lie down, which he did as soon as we got there and went to sleep until it was time to go. Just brilliant. The food was great too and a lovely evening was had by all.

Then, when we got back to the house, Dan went out for a quick pee and then came in and went straight to bed not to stir until I got up the next morning at 8.

Today we went to the music festival at Paxton House to listen to Granny Green, an amazing trio who play their own brand of folk music using a trumpet, accordion and tuba. I was very impressed and they certainly had my feet tapping. They really are quite unique and I urge you to see them if they're on near you. Dan, of course, just went to sleep bless him.

Dan, getting ready to sleep by blending in with the floor at Paxton House!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Baking for my baby

I'm now not just in a post holiday depression, but a post Wimbledon blue as well and I still have my cough. However, I've had to turn my mind to other things.

Today is No. 2 Son's birthday. He's 30! I can hardly believe he's that age... it's not that age bothers me at all, just that it only seems a moment ago he was a baby. And, as my mother keeps telling me, the youngest is always your baby. Poor guy!

Anyway, yesterday, to get myself out of my PHD and PWB I made the decision to bake a birthday cake. You have to bear in mind I haven't baked a cake pretty much since No. 2 Son left home to to to Drama College in Fife when he was 17. But I've kept all my baking stuff hidden in a cupboard for all those years.

I'm pleased to report that, with a touch of angst and flour all over the kitchen, I managed to bake this:

My first cake effort for 12 years!

Yes, it's a bit lopsided, but it's a cake and that's the main thing. And given that I really don't like chocolate, let alone cake, I think I did a great job to put up with the smell. Not only was it in my kitchen, but also in my car when I drove it up to Edinburgh today, along with a balloon to give him a surprise when he got home from work today.

I also dropped into his work... well really, what do you expect? Of course it's a mother's job to embarrass her children and I think I do that part of the job pretty well, if I say so myself!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The dilemma of a world traveller

After a lovely couple of last days in Thailand, where everyone was very sweet to me and it was almost tears all round when I left, I had a pleasant, uneventful flight back to the UK on my EVA Air flight.

I think I've said before how much I love the pyjamas they give us, which are great. They're made from lovely soft cotton and this year's version are blue and green (last year it was a kind of sandy brown colour) and cosy comfy, especially when it's cold. I was very pleased that, in spite of the fact that I flew out at 3.20 pm - after a 2 hour delay as there'd been some technical hitch before the plane left Taipei (which is always destined to make anxious passengers even more so when they make that announcement), however the EVA Air lounge at Bangkok is just wonderful, with fab food and drink and very comfortable to hang out in - they still gave us pj's. This is a whole lot better than Qantas, who, if you fly during the day, don't give you such niceties, as they reserve their pj's (a nice light cotton grey pair) for night time flying only. You have been warned.

I arrived at my mother's house in London at 11 pm feeling very sprightly as, of course, I was still 6 hours ahead and it was morning as far as I was concerned. I did manage an hour's sleep, but that was it. I also discovered I'd come back with a cold... a great parting gift from the dining room manager in Hua Hin, who'd come down with it 3 days before I left.

London was OK. Not too cold. My tan was greatly admired by all and sundry and I spent my time staying out of my mother's way, even though she was actually in a reasonably good mood. She was out quite a bit herself, so it worked out pretty well. I even went, on her recommendation, to get my nails done in M&S in Oxford Street, which I can highly recommend, and was a laugh a minute with the other ladies who have nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon and only cost a tenner.

Then I had to tear myself away from Murray playing pretty well at Wimbledon and went out for dinner last night. Luckily I'd borrowed a brolly from my mother's house as about 5 minutes after I left there it chucked it down. My feet were pretty wet, but they soon dried off over my salmon and salad with white wine meal at Harry's Bar where I was taken. However, I cried off early as jet lag really started to set in and I was in my bed by 9.30 pm.

At least, because of the awful weather that's been around this week and because I purchased a 1st Class ticket while they were going pretty cheaply a few months ago, I sat back on my journey back to Scotland enjoying the delights of the extra day at Wimbledon for the few hours it took me to get home.

I'm already missing the Thai heat and we're due more rain tomorrow, so I might just have my first day back home resting up and watching tennis while I make up my mind if I'm in the mood to wear my EVA Air pj's or my Qantas ones. 1st world dilemma or what?!